No Need to Yell

We all have different ways of handling anger.  At least part of the way we handle our anger is dependent upon how we are feeling at the moment. I am generally a calm person. However, if I am in an annoyed – kids kept me up, train was late, students were rude – mood, I can be cranky.

The other day, my children and I were in a parking lot as my older son had just completed a Karate lesson. The boys and I walked back to the parking lot, got in the car, and began sorting out snacks (they are ravenous at that hour). As they were finally content, I checked the mirrors and readied to back up and go home. All of a sudden, someone started banging on the front passenger door. “What the heck?” I wondered to myself. I looked up and saw an older gentlemen flailing his arms. He along with his wife were clearly angry at something. He was blabbering on in what I perceived to be Russian (there is a large Russian population in my town). In a moment, I realized he was not pontificating about the pros and cons of another Putin presidency but instead there was a scratch on his car. Clearly, he felt that the scratch was caused by my or my children’s negligence.

While I was not sure that my boys or I had caused the scratch, I apologized. He mimicked, “Sorry, sorry.” What did this man want? I asked him and at some point he told me to pull my car up. What? There was a brick wall in front of us and besides, what was the point of that request? I refused. He continued yelling and went and stood behind my car. Was he going to scratch up my car with his key, hold me there? I had no idea. I asked him, “What are you doing?” After a minute or so, he moved away. As I left, I apologized again and he was still yelling.

On the ride home, I asked the children if they remembered hitting the door by accident. While they said no, I reminded them to be very careful when getting out of the car. Even if they had hit the car, by that point, they probably would have been afraid to admit it. I tried to explain that the man was acting crazy because he was upset. When we are upset, we do not act reasonable. If you want something, you have to talk in a reasonable manner. My younger son brought up the incident throughout the rest of the day; as we were reading together at night, he said once more, “You shouldn’t yell, right daddy? You shouldn’t act crazy.” “Yes, that’s right,” I assured him. “We get angry but yelling does not accomplish anything.” Ironically, yelling makes the words louder but not more clear.

We try and teach our children the right way to handle things. Sometimes, those messages come through more clearly than others.




Commercial Free, Please!

I sometimes feel queasy in malls. It could be the stale conditioned air, or the odor from the fake plants, or the mess of smells that emanate from the food court. Or maybe it is the massive amount of commercialism and the constant thought that runs through my head when I find myself in such a place – “Why the hell does anyone need this stuff?”

I’ll get back to that. My boys and I are all off from school this week. My wife decided to take the week off as well, so we could enjoy some family time together. After some debate, we ended up going to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ. Located on the waterfront across the river from downtown Philadelphia, the aquarium had ample parking with a fish motif throughout the lot and entrance area. There was a line to get in, but it moved quickly. The entrance fee was somewhat steep – they were not open to negotiations – but I was convinced the large aquarium surely would have much to offer.

It feels good to say told you so. There were numerous displays in the aquarium including some where you could touch the fish. I actually petted a shark and a stingray. I was trying to be a good parent – definitely would not have bothered if I was there childless – and inspire my children to take chances and get out of their comfort zone. Nothing doing. Oh well. There was one room that was more like a tunnel through an aquarium with sharks all about. Another area included a spot where children could put their heads into an inverted fish bowl and look out and see the fish up close and personal. Photo op! Anyway, we also wandered outside where they have Penguin Island. My children, who are more into “hands-on” than “eyes-on” displays, enjoyed themselves at a breakneck pace, rarely slowing down to stare at the fish.

So, as you can tell from this description, a good time was had by all. However, there was something about the aquarium that bothered me. It seemed as if everywhere you turned, there was something for sale. Firstly, the food court was massive and was a throughway that we seemed to have to use perpetually. Then, there was the gift shop. It was large and filled with so many useless items. They also had face painting, an area to have your child pose on a surfboard, and other cash guzzlers located throughout the aquarium.  None of this is outrageous and is almost standard these days at attractions. Probably just my craziness. Yet, it felt as though the commercialism was everywhere. We were in the aquarium 10 minutes before we actually saw fish, though we had passed half a dozen stands selling all types of unnecessary items. Aquarium? Mall? I don’t think it was the smell of fish making me queasy!

Bullies Have to be Dealt With

I heard today that the price of gas somewhere in Florida is $6 a gallon.  At the gas station closest to where I live, the price is near $3.50.  There are many reasons why the price of gas has gone up lately.  Some of these reasons I understand while other reasons are not so clear to me. One reason in particular is crystal clear. A large percentage of the oil that the world depends upon is exported from the Middle East. You add that to the fact that there is instability in that part of the world, and you have one of the major factors in the crazy high gas prices.

It seems as if talk of Iran, and its strivings for nuclear weapons (yes, I know they are saying they intend it for power only, but does anyone really believe that) is in the news constantly these days. The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, denies the Holocaust, and repeatedly says Israel should be wiped off the map.  Yet, he is allegedly the more rational when compared to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who holds more of the power.  It has been rumored that at one point the Supreme Leader overruled Ahmadinejad when he was ready to compromise in a nuclear dispute.  So you have two lunatics who can’t even agree with each other about how to run a country. That country has long been known to be a sponsor of terrorist organizations, has committed acts of terrorism, and has regularly burned American flags while cursing the country. Now, according to some reports, that country, Iran, is on the verge of creating a nuclear bomb.

The leaders of our country, however, tell us in so many words, not to worry. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “We are of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor.”  I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination – just a guy who reads the newspaper, but I have to say, ‘are you kidding me?’  These two people mentioned above are rational?  Is he saying we should just talk to them as President Obama said we should do when he came to office which failed miserably? Some people can’t be spoken to. It reminds me of a Brady Bunch episode.  Peter gets into a fight trying to defend his little sister, Cindy, from a bully.  His parents, Mike and Carol tell him to go back to the bully and talk with him – he will listen to sense, they believe.  When this doesn’t work, Mike tries talking to the bully’s father. When that doesn’t work, Carol tries talking to the mother of the bully certain that women can talk things out reasonably.  This fails as well.  In the end, they give Peter boxing lessons and he ultimately ends up knocking the teeth loose of the bully who clearly will not be bothering Cindy anymore.

Sometimes countries, like bullies, are not reasonable. We expect people to be rational if we are. That expectation is naïve and can lead to greater damage in the long run.  I don’t know what the answer is in dealing with Iran, but I do know that a military strike needs to be a real consideration.  Six dollars for a gallon of gas stinks. A bully with a deadly weapon capable of causing massive amounts of casualties stinks a whole lot more

Expiration Date

Everything should have an expiration date.  Doesn’t everyone check the expiration date on the milk as they pick it up and before they put it in their cart and then look to see if there are any other cartons that have a later date? More time, give me more time.

Whenever I go on Yahoo, I scan the headlines. Most of the information is quite meaningless. However, today I came upon a gem. Sinead O’Connor is getting married. Not only that, it is her 4th time getting married. I can’t believe I was not informed the first three times. This is big news, and I am sure I would have remembered.  I say this with no venom – I hated her song. Again, by the way, that is song not songs or album or albums but one single song. Oh and by the way, my just completed research revealed that her 21 year old one hit wonder, Nothing Compares to You, was a cover. So, is there really any need to report on Sinead O’Connor whose bigger claim to fame was that she was bald (if we reported every marriage of the billion or so men who are bald, we might have the makings of a cable television channel)? Hasn’t she clearly expired? I don’t mean that maliciously but really, who cares?

Maybe, America cares. Aren’t quite a few reality shows centered on former celebrities trying to extend their expiration date? By the way, did you know Peter Brady got married?  Do we care for our own sake? Maybe, it’s pure nostalgia to take us back to another time in our lives. Maybe, it’s our obsession with celebrity and once you achieve it, you will always have it and therefore always be interesting. Anyway, as I was saying, maybe it is a way to escape the mundane.

In the end, I don’t really know what all the fuss is about.  I just wish the milk would stay good till the expiration date.